What are you afraid of? Spiders? Heights? Losing your job?
One of my biggies is snakes. Particularly large, poisonous ones.
I set off on a walk one recent afternoon and soon found myself immersed in the beauty of the glorious fall day. My mind whirled with blog post ideas. A sense of peace filled me.
When I crested a gentle rise, two men on mountain bikes were parked, one next to a fence the other on the shoulder opposite, engrossed in conversation. There was plenty of room for me to pass between them, so I forged ahead with a determined stride.
Upon reaching the cyclists, the bushy-bearded man nearest me said, “Are you going to walk right by the snake?”
“What snake?” I asked.
He glanced at the left side of the trail, and my gaze followed.
There was a snake all right. A five-foot-long rattlesnake took up half of the trail. With the bikers parked on each side of it, the only way for me to get past that snake was to walk beside the diamond-backed reptile, one that was very much alive.
In the past I would’ve screamed, run, or both. I’ve grown more courageous in recent years, though. I saw that the snake was presently immobile, its head pointed away from me. I remembered my husband telling me snakes move more slowly when the weather cools. I realized I could pass by it and finish my walk or give in to my fear and turn around.
With a boldness I didn’t know I possessed, I strode right by that rattler. It didn’t move, but the heads of those men did as they followed my progress. I caught a glimpse of the bearded man’s face as he gaped in disbelief.
He wasn’t the only one shocked. I’d surprised myself. Thoughts raced through my mind. I just walked within two feet of a live rattlesnake. It could have bit me. It didn’t. I’m OK. Wow! I’m as brave as my heroine who faced one of the poisonous creatures.
My feeling of victory stayed with me throughout the next two miles.
And then I remembered that I had to pass that way again.
As I approached the portion of the trail where I’d encountered the snake, I had to force myself not to slow my steps. This time I knew what I might find, and fear slithered into my over-active mind.
No one was around, so I talked to myself. “You did it before; you can do it again. Courage is simply facing our fears and doing it anyway.”
I remembered something my husband has often said to me. “Eighty percent of what we fear never happens.”
The Lord’s words to Joshua came to mind. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.”
I marched up that hill, and guess what I saw?
The snake was gone.
I completed my walk, feeling a sense of accomplishment. That’s not to say I’m OK with rattlesnakes now, but I realized I can allow my fears to keep me from getting where I want to go, or I can face them as I did that day and achieve my goals.
• • •
What fears and phobias do you have? How do you choose to deal with them?
Can you recall a time when you faced a fear head-on and felt a feeling of mastery?